Tuesday, June 14, 2011


3G: The Third Generation Future of Mobile Phone Technology

The first generation (1G) of mobile phones (1970s – 1980s) involved:

  • Analogue transmission
  • The limitation to making ‘voice’ calls
  • Only being able to use the mobile phone in one country

The second generation (2G) began in the early 1990s and saw the introduction of digital transmission allowing SMS to be integrated into the service of mobile phones. The advance into new technology during the millennium, such as WAP, has been called 2.5G: this is where we are now and 3G is just around the corner.

3G is the era for the introduction of broadband so that the number of possibilities from a mobile phone could be endless such as interactive media e.g. high quality video-conferencing. Web pages will become more accessible and will be received at much higher speeds of around 2Mbps. 3G will also allow mobile phones to support Java so that interactive web pages can be downloaded.

The next generation of mobile phones will also see the introduction of MMS (Multimedia Messaging) allowing images, animations, clips and text to be sent to another MMS phone or PC. The phones that offer this capability were available to buy in the UK around May 2002 at prices averaging £150. The introduction of colour screens on mobile phones made available during the same time further enhances the MMS feature.

Built-in mobile phone cameras, made available at the same time as MMS, allows images to be displayed on mobile phone screens (just like a digital camera). Images can then be saved as JPEG’s and can be stored or sent to other MMS mobile phones and PCs.

It is predicted that 3G technology will see mobile phones (and other mobile units such as Palm-tops) being used just as much as desktop PCs once the technology has been fully integrated. As a result, it has been suggested that mobile phones are mass-produced as lap-top computers.


With the introduction of WAP, came the availability of e-mail from mobile phones. The user must first have an on-line e-mail account: these can usually be set up directly with your mobile phone service provider by registering your details on their web site.

To send an e-mail, you would write it on your mobile phone (as you would text messages) and send it directly to the required address. The length of the e-mails is not restricted in length and so you can write messages in full. To receive an e-mail, you would download your e-mails directly to your phone by using WAP to connect to your e-mail account via the Internet. Some service providers send an indication to your phone when you have received a new e-mail usually in the form of a load “beep” or SMS.

Some of the newer phones without WAP do offer an e-mailing option but e-mails can only be sent and not received. The lengths of these e-mails are still limited to the 160-character length as for SMS.


Blue-tooth is a technology that allows communication between digital devices such as PCs, mobile phones, lap-tops and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA). It is achieved by a short-range (around 10 metres) wireless connection that will vary in form depending on what hardware it is to be associated with:

  • The back of a mobile phone will be replaced by a compatible blue-tooth battery
  • PDAs/lap-tops will have a compatible blue-tooth connectivity card
  • PCs will have a USB (common on PCs) blue-tooth adaptor

Not all mobile phones are compatible for blue-tooth technology but the phones that are becoming available do compensate for such use. The most common mobile phone that is compatible for the use of blue-tooth communication is the Nokia 6210e pictured on the right.

The blue-tooth technology can be used to create a three-way connection allowing three pieces of hardware to be connected together at any one time. Information can then be replicated from, say, a mobile phone to a PC by sending the data via the wireless (infra-red) blue-tooth connection. For information to be transferred, all devices must have the same software application in which the data can be replicated i.e. a mobile phone must have the application Microsoft Word for a Word document to be replicated from a PC.

Mobile Communication Technology

GSM (Global System for Mobile communication): The Basics

GSM is the digital mobile phone network that is used throughout Europe and in most other areas around the world. GSM can provide for voice-mail (answer phone service), faxing, SMS and high-speed data transfer (WAP) as well as for talk..

GPRS (General Packet Radio System): The Basics

GPRS is a technology that does not replace GSM, but uses the GSM network to allow data to be sent/received at higher speeds.

Further, the technology (without going into the science) allows you to pay only for the time that the information takes to send/receive. This payment method is only valid for the use of WAP (see below) and does not apply when talking.

The advantages of GPRS are further highlighted in the next section.

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)

WAP is a technology designed to allow Internet material (web pages, e-mail, etc) to be viewed on mobile phones. WAP browsers on the phone display text-only versions of web pages as images have to be removed due to the limited bandwidth that the network currently has to offer. GSM offers speeds of around 9.6Kbps but the new GPRS has allowed speeds of around 20-24Kbps. The older WAP phones will still use the original GSM network but the new WAP phones that you see available today will use GPRS.

GSM phones have to go through the slow log-in processes when using WAP, but GPRS provides a continuous connection for the day once logged in. As said before, GPRS will allow web pages to be read without the worry of cost because the time used to download the information is the only chargeable period for using WAP (Important: talk time rates will be independently charged): GSM charges for the total time connected.

The information that can be viewed by WAP mobile phones is currently limited to news, finance, directories, travel, shopping, sport and e-mail (detailed later) but can be extremely useful. Although GPRS has expanded the capabilities of WAP such as faxing and e-mailing, the next generation technology will make a huge difference to how we will interact between mobile phones and the Internet.